Rutgers University QuarkNet Center
Submitted by kcecire
on Sunday, July 7, 2013 - 23:00
The Rutgers University QuarkNet Center is one of the oldest in QuarkNet. Teachers from all over New Jersey. work together in thei unique Rutgers cosmic ray program and bring particle physics concepts to the classroom.
New Jersey teachers explore CMS, particle physics, cosmic rays, and more.
This article is adopted from an e-mail by mentor Steve Schnetzer to teachers and students in the Rutgers QuarkNet summer program.
There have been some interesting physics developments over the summer. They are mostly negative developments (things not found), but that doesn't mean they are bad. What's important is that we learn how the universe works. If the universe doesn't give the positive result that we expected or hoped for, we will still have learned something about the universe and that is what's important.
1) In early August the ATLAS and CMS experiments reported their results at a major conference in Chicago, the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP). Both experiments reported no evidence so far for supersymmetric particles. Supersymmetry (SUSY) is a very attractive theory to naturally explain why the Higgs mass and subsequently all of the other known particle masses are so light (≲100 GeV/c2) when vacuum fluctuations of quantum fields should drive the mass to be many orders of magnitude larger.
2) A week or so after the ICHEP conference, there was a small meeting of mostly theoretical physicists at the Niels Bohr Academy in Copenhagen. At that conference, the SUSY Bet was resolved. In the video, you can watch several of the most prominent physicists in particle theory discuss in non-mathematical terms one of the outstanding issues in physics.
3) On a related topic, LUX, a very large underground detector in a mine in South Dakota, announced in July that they saw no evidence of dark matter. Here is an article from Scientific American about it. LUX is a giant tank of liquid Xenon designed to be able to detect dark matter when it (very rarely) interacts with a nucleus of the detector. The lightest supersymmetric particle (LSP) is a very good candidate for dark matter but was not seen in LUX. Dark matter is definitely real; we know that from the rotational velocities of stars in galaxies and from gravitational lensing, but we still have no idea what it is. It seems likely now that it is not the LSP.
4) Now for some news of a positive result. There was an announcement in early July at the 27th International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics at Imperial College in London that the T2K experiment has found evidence for CP violation in neutrinos. This may be a really big deal. CP violation means that there is a difference in the laws of physics between matter and antimatter. If the laws of physics were symmetric between matter and antimatter, there would have been equal amounts and it would have all annihilated leaving the universe filled only with photons, neutrinos and maybe dark matter. That would have been very bad for us. The T2K experiment sends a beam of muon neutrinos produced by a proton accelerator on the Pacific Coast of Japan to detector inside a mountain several hundred kilometers away. On the way, some of the muon neutrinos oscillate into electron neutrinos. You can read about the results of the experiment here:
The key is Figure 1. Compare the upper and lower plots on the right. There are roughly three to four times fewer electron anti-neutrinos than electron neutrinos observed. This is a very exciting result. It is at about a 2 sigma confidence level, which means that statistically there is about a 95% change that the result is real. Over the next five years more data will be collected by T2K that should turn this, if it is real, into a statistically 99.9% certain result. Meanwhile, in the U.S., there is a plan to send a beam of neutrinos from Fermilab to a detector in the Homestake Mine at Sanford Lab in South Dakota (the same mine where the LUX dark matter detector mentioned above is currently taking data). Stay tuned. If you'd like to read more on this, you might start here:
Our last day here we are presenting the educational senarios we created! It has been a very informative and inspiring conference! I am attaching some more pictures!
What an awesome experience to be in the Inspiring Summer Education (ISE) Conference in Greece! It is amazing to be discussing inquiry science education, the latest online resources, and a range of topics from online robotic telescopes to particle accelerators in Greece the birthplace of Aristotle, Socrates, Democritos, Eratosthenes,..... It was a a special treat to have inspiring speakers such as Quarknet's own Marge and Bill Bardeen, CERN scientists Christine Kourkoumelis and by virtual visit at ATLAS Ioannis Gialas and many others! We composed our own inquiry based educational senarios and posted them on the ISE Portal. We also visited the engineering marvels of the Acropolis of Athens and the temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion.
A special shoutout to Quarknet and Rutgers Quarknet!!!
- Two kinds of account (guide)
- Account Request form ←
- Cosmic e-Lab Teacher Home (go for account repair or student accounts)
This report summarizes the Rutgers QuarkNet Workshop held from July 7 to July 18. Professors Amit Lath, Eva Halkiadakis, Yuri Gershtein and Steve Schnetzer of the Rutgers high energy particle physics group hosted the session. It was attended by twenty students and four high school teachers from New Jersey.
The workshop consisted of multiple activities for the students that kept all of them interested and engaged. There were six three-‐hour sessions organized by Prof. Lath and Halkiadakis in which the students learned to analyze actual data from CMS, calculate invariant masses and use Root to discover the Z boson by its di-‐muon mass peak and the Higgs boson by its di-‐photon mass peak. In these sessions, the students worked in groups of three to four.
There were also four three-‐hour sessions in which the students used
QuarkNet supplied cosmic ray detectors to measure the muon lifetime and the speed of cosmic ray muons and thereby demonstrate relativistic time dilation. In these sessions the students also worked in groups of three to four. Prof. Schnetzer gave a set of four presentations on relativity to the group of rapt students (see photo above). The students spent a day learning about the 20 MeV Cyclotron in the Rutgers senior lab from Prof. Tim Koeth of the University of Maryland and were able to operate the cyclotron and conduct some simple experiments with the beam. There were a series of lunch time talks giving by various Rutgers faculty covering astrophysics and cosmology, condensed matter physics, neutrino oscillations and LHC physics. One of the teachers, Daniel Kaplan, told the students about work that he had done in Rutherford Back Scattering. The students visited the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and also toured the state-‐of-‐the-‐art Rutgers Surface Science Lab. At the end of the workshop, each group of three to four students gave a ten minute presentation on some aspect of what they had learned during the workshop. On the last day of the workshop, we had a showing of the movie Particle Fever and, of course, pizza.
Everyone involved in the workshop (teachers, students and mentors) considered it to be a great success. The students appreciated learning how to use the actual tools used by researchers and received an in-‐depth look at what physics research is really about.
I thought the overview was a bit over the heads of the students and made the students uncomfortable. At this point some students might have been frustrated because they were looking forward to a two week program in which they would feel lost. As the week unfolded, this was addressed.
Rolling with Rutherford
A great way to approach the concept of measuring something indirectly. The statistical nature of the outcome and ensuing class discussion were key.
Calculate the Z-mass
In the past I have tried using the Top Quark measurement with my class as a review of momentum and vectors. This is more direct and less onerous. I will be using this in the upcoming school year.
Fermilab Virtual Visit
This was very helpful for the programs. The students were highly engaged.
CMS W/Z measurement
This was a great activity the really gave the students an overview of the particle physics process. I need to get the tools to allow me to run this in my class..